Complete transparency needed in beef sector says IFA president

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Joe Healy has called for “intervention and complete transparency” within the beef sector ahead of a meeting with European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, later this evening (January 16) in Brussels.

Healy, who spoke to AgriLand this afternoon, said there was a lot of uncertainty in the aftermath of last night’s Brexit vote in the UK, particularly around the beef side of things.

He also pointed out the matter would be top of the agenda when speaking to the commissioner this evening as would potential trade deals to ease the difficulties farmers, not just in Ireland, but those in other member states within the EU would have, if and when the UK exits in a no-deal Brexit situation.

Beef sector

The IFA president told AgriLand that the entire beef sector has become compromised from the suckler right up to the finished animal.

Also Read: Movement calls for beef intervention as no-deal Brexit looms closer

“Intervention has to be explored. At the moment we are 25c/kg less than we were this time last year; the price at the moment for beef going into intervention is too low and that needs to be looked at as well,” he added.

Potential supports

Meanwhile, Healy pointed to EU market support and State Aid Rules that could be put in place should Irish farmers need them.

“Every possible way that will help Irish and EU farmers will be explored and we need to find out what the EU has in mind,” he continued.

I know there are beef finishers who are afraid to buy cattle at the moment because come next April what will they do?

Taking power back

Continuing, he said: “The lack of power within the sector was identified last year when the co-ops were trying to increase the price of milk and the factories were reducing the price in what was our biggest market – the UK.

“We need more transparency; the factories say they are not making a fortune, the retailers say they are not making a fortune and yet the farmer is getting 25c/kg less then he/she was this time last year.”

UK withdrawal

The IFA president was also in London yesterday for the Brexit vote and he told AgriLand that he took two positive elements away with him, despite the outcome.

I came away with a little bit of hope from London that there won’t be a no-deal exit by the UK; people in the UK don’t want a no-deal situation to happen.

“Nine out of 10 countries that the UK imports into are in the EU; they know there would be problems for them if the UK was to crash out.

“Also, the EU has made it very clear that any extension to Article 50 would only happen if there was a deal on the table. I would like to think that a no-deal Brexit won’t happen, but I can’t see that happening without an extension to Article 50.”